Monday, January 31, 2011

Honest Brokers: The Politics of Expertise and the “Who Lost China” Debate


The Berkeley Sociology Colloquium Series Spring 2011 Presents:

Honest Brokers: The Politics of Expertise and the “Who Lost China” Debate

Gary Alan Fine, Sociology, Northwestern University

Complex social system requires knowledge specialists who provide information that political actors rely on to help solve political challenges or social problems. But what happens in the aftermath of advice that is considered incorrect or harmful? In such circumstances, how do communities of experts preserve their reputation in the face of charges of incompetence or maliciousness? To examine challenges to expert reputations and their defense we examine the debate in the early 1950s over "Who Lost China?," the congressional attempt to assign responsibility for the fall of the Nationalist regime to the Communists. Using a "strong case," we examine the political battles that surrounded the motives of Professor Owen Lattimore of Johns Hopkins University. For epistemic authority an expert must be defined as competent (having a legitimated background), influential (providing consequential information), and innocent (claiming epistemic neutrality). Following from this structure of expertise, we analyze two forms of reputational attack: smears (an oppositional presentation of a set of linked and critical claims) and degradation ceremonies (the institutional awarding of stigma). Smears appear when reputational rivals lack authority, whereas the degradation ceremony operates in conjunction with institutional control. They have different relations to systems of power. Policy experts hope for control over an autonomous realm of knowledge, but when these claims conflict with institutional needs, their position may be undercut.

Gary Alan Fine is the John Evans Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University. He is currently a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Social Psychology, and is known for his research on small group culture, ethnographic studies of leisure and work, rumor and gossip, and political reputations. He is the author of Difficult Reputations: Collective Memories of the Evil, Inept and Controversial; The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration, and International Trade Matter; and Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work. His current research includes a study of competitive chess, a theoretical analysis of small group culture, and an examination of political reputation in the civil-rights era South.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Who now reads Friedan?

A review of Stephanie Coontz' (teaches history and family studies at Evergreen State College) new book on the reception and effects of The Feminine Mystique appears in next Sunday's NYT Book Review.

Mad Women
Published: January 20, 2011

Halfway through “A Strange Stirring,” the social historian Stephanie Coontz — parsing the reception of “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan’s 1963 examination of middle-class female repression and despair — confesses to feeling some ambivalence over Friedan’s project, and hence her own.

Acknowledging the working-class and minority women left out of Friedan’s best seller, Coontz admits that while it is “pointless to construct a hierarchy of who hurt more,” her own initial reaction to Friedan’s elite scope “was to dismiss the pain of the middle-class housewives as less ‘real’ than that of their working-class sisters.”


See also
Coontz, Stephanie. "Why 'Mad Men' is TV's most feminist show." The Washington Post, Sunday 10 October, 2010

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Computing and Social Science Position at Bowdoin

Bowdoin College invites applications for a Laboratory Associate & Programmer to work in the department of Sociology and Anthropology. The lab associate is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Social Network Innovation Lab. He/she will be expected to understand data scraping techniques for integrating disparate data systems from online virtual communities. The position requires participation in an application development team environment which includes undergraduate students. Opportunities to publish papers with students and faculty are also possible depending on experience. One or more of the following duties may be required, depending on project circumstances: MySQL Database Administration; writing programs in Java, PHP and Structured Query Language (SQL); software architecture, design and production; web services design and administration; and/or exporting data for use in statistical analysis. This is approximately a three-year grant-funded position; the position will exist only so long as grant funds are able to support it fully.

Requirements: A Bachelor's degree in computer science/quantitative social science/related discipline, or higher or specific equivalent experience, is required. Applicants must possess excellent written and oral communication skills and problem solving skills, knowledge of working with MySQL, Linux, web-based APIs, and the ability to work independently and to work in a small team environment. Knowledge of at least one object-oriented programming language is also required. Familiarity with JSON, knowledge of data scraping, and familiarity with regular expressions preferred. A demonstrated portfolio of programming work, either in academic or industry settings, is required. Experience in basic statistics (including running correlations and generating statistical graphs), experience with working with undergraduate students, research experience (at a postgraduate level) strongly preferred.

This position is subject to a criminal history background check.

To apply, please visit
<>  and complete an online application for the position. Paper or emailed applications for this position will not be accepted. If you have any questions about this process, please call 207-725-3923 or email Bowdoin College is committed to equality through affirmative action, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Mills Alumna to Speak at UCB Sociology Colloquium

MONDAY January 24th 

The Berkeley Sociology Colloquium Series
Spring 2011 Presents:

How Poverty Became Capital: Millennial Modernity and its Discontents

Ananya Roy
Department of City and Regional Planning
University of California, Berkeley

The start of the new millennium has been marked by the emergence of a remarkable global conscience about poverty. In this talk, Ananya Roy examines the shift from the "end of history" to the "end of poverty." In particular, she shows how experiments with "bottom billion capitalism" are central to millennial modernity and its frameworks of global liberalism.  The world's bottom billion, now imagined as microentrepreneurs, constitute the new frontiers of global finance capital.  By focusing on a highly popular development technology, microfinance, Roy outlines how such bottom billion markets are constructed in various regions of the world. However, the enterprise of converting poverty into capital is fraught with contradictions.  Drawing on several years of ethnographic research conducted in the circuits of finance capital and in the circuits of expertise, Roy emphasizes the limits of such forms of subprime accumulation. From the World Bank to the Grameen Bank, from Citigroup to Hezbollah, she traces the counter-practices, contestations, and ruptures that haunt the making of millennial modernity.

Ananya Roy is Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches courses in the fields of comparative urban studies and international development.  Roy also serves as Co-Director of the Global Metropolitan Studies initiative and as Chair of the newly established undergraduate minor in Global Poverty and Practice.  Roy is the author of City Requiem, Calcutta: Gender and the Politics of Poverty and most recently of Poverty Capital: Microfinance and the Making of Development. The research for the latter was funded by a National Science Foundation grant. She is currently completing a book, edited with Aihwa Ong, titled Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global.

Monday, January 17, 2011

ICPSR Summer Undergraduate Internship Program -- 2011


ICPSR Summer Undergraduate
Internship Program -- 2011

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world's largest archive of digital social science data, is now accepting applications for its annual summer internship program. ICPSR is a unit within the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. ICPSR's data are the foundation for thousands of research articles, reports, and books. Findings from these data are put to use by scholars, policy analysts, policy makers, the media, and the public.
Interns spend ten weeks from June 7 - August 13, 2011, at ICPSR (Ann Arbor, Michigan), during which they will:
·         Work in small groups and with faculty mentors to complete research projects resulting in conference-ready posters
·         Gain experience using statistical programs such as SAS, SPSS, and Stata to check data, working in both UNIX and Windows environments
·         Attend courses in the ICPSR Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research
·         Participate in a weekly Lunch and Lecture series that covers topics related to social science research and professional development.
$3,000 - $5000* stipend, room and partial-board in university housing, and a scholarship covering the cost of fees, texts, and materials for coursework in the ICPSR Summer Program.

Application Procedure:
Interested individuals should submit a cover letter of interest, resume or CV, two letters of recommendation, list of relevant courses, and contact information for the required two professional or faculty references (that may be submitted under separate cover) to:

ICPSR Human Resources, Attn: Summer Internship Program, P.O.Box 1248, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-1248
Applications due by February 15, 2011.
* Stipend amount and citizenship requirement pending funding from the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates program.
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  • Undergraduate standing and completion of sophomore year in a social science major, with interests related to one of ICPSR's Thematic Collections
  • Strong academic credentials
  • Knowledge of a statistical software package such as SPSS, SAS, or Stata
  • Previous experience with social science research via work or class project
  • Demonstrated leadership, problem solving, and strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to prioritize tasks, work on multiple assignments at once, and manage ambiguity
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team with professionals at all levels
  • Expected graduation of Dec. 2011 or later
  • United States citizenship or permanent residency*

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kaplan Test Prep Books Free Today at Amazon

Apparently, today, is offering all the E-book versions of Kaplan test prep books for free. No need to have a Kindle, you can use the E-book on a Mac or PC. Get your prep books for free